The summer breeze is fading but we don't have that urge for going yet and that's a good thing, because there's almost a month left of summer, despite the fact that September is just a few days away. Stop by the Market so you can have one last week full of lazy days and see your friends, so you can't say it's been a cruel summer.
The Hazy, Lazy Days of Summer
Although summer is on the wane, the bounty of the Market keeps getting larger each week. We have two slow cooker recipes to help you ease into September and retain some of the slowness of the season.
The trick to our friend Barbara's slow cooker ratatouille is how the vegetables are layered. Put one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of the slow cooker and swirl to coat. Use one thinly sliced onion and one or two cloves of garlic as your base layer. Dice one zucchini and one yellow squash into about 2-inch pieces and layer over onions. Add eggplant diced into about 1-inch pieces and then add diced tomatoes (half-inch or larger). Sprinkle 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (sea salt or pink salt is nice but kosher works well too) over tomatoes. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low 6+ hours, depending on your slow cooker. When you have about 1 hour left, add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Mediterranean herbs (basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme), ground pepper, and 2 tablespoons white or red wine (optional). The dish is ready when the eggplant looks slightly wrinkled and the tomatoes look stewed.
The BIGGER trick is that this ratatouille is expandable to a variety of dishes and cuisines after it's finished. Add cooked Italian sausage and/or white beans or chickpeas, top with shredded mozzarella and Romano/Parmesan and serve over pasta. Add sautéed ground meat and serve over couscous or brown rice along with feta cheese. Add cooked andouille sausage for over dirty rice or red beans and rice. Vegetarian or vegan? Add cooked lentils or beans and serve over pasta, couscous or rice. Add cheese (real or vegan) if desired. You can also use vegan sausage or meat substitute to bulk it up. Want an appetizer? Warm it and add a dash of cinnamon (trust us) and spoon onto slices of toasted French bread. It also makes a nice topping for pizza -- just drain it first.
We've also been buying a lot of tomatoes at the Market and have been gifted some as well, so how to use these fresh beauties before they go bad? Again, with the slow cooker. Chop up fresh tomatoes of all sorts, an onion, a red pepper, and one or two cloves of garlic and throw them into a crock pot along with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of coarse salt, chopped fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, basil), and a dash of something kicky, like hot pepper flakes or hot sauce (a small whole hot pepper is good if you like it hotter). A splash of red wine never hurts. After 4 hours on high or 6 on low, you'll have cooked-down, soft vegetables that can be strained (save the juice for soup or drinking!) and used on a pizza or with pasta. We purée the leftovers (if there are any) with an immersion blender for a delicious tomato soup that can be served hot or cold and with or without a dollop of sour cream and an extra sprinkling of chopped herbs of your choice.
Dessert possibilities are endless right now: use fresh berries or fruit in a granita, make plum cake on the grill, go wild and make sweet corn and blackberry ice cream (it's a real thing . . . and it's good), and start your rumtopf, if you haven't already, to be ready for a delicious and boozy dessert amendment for the winter holidays.
For Now or Later
Speaking of Wilson's Curiously Good Foods, John has a number of new offerings these days that will delight your taste buds. Hungry at the Market or want an easy Saturday lunch? John has chilled gazpacho, big red chicken salad (which has a mild but pleasant kick), and hot savory mushroom soup, along with that chocolate much-more-than-just-a-pudding dessert.
Fill your freezer with ready-to-defrost items like John's puttanesca pasta sauce, mushroom sauce, red wine beef and bacon chili, red wine turkey chili, and, again (because you can't have enough of it, let alone too much), savory mushroom soup. Two new offerings, which John is hoping to have available again this Saturday, are butternut pomegranate soup and asparagus soup.
Oh, and did we mention those chocolate pots de crème? Ask for a free taste!
Nana's Homemade is taking off this weekend, as is Spotted Hill Farm. As we mentioned in the last Fresh Picks, the same nonweekly vendors will be at the Market this week and next, because of the whole fifth Saturday thing. (Except that Spotted Hill is back next week.)
Remember that Buy the Dozen Bakery is off September 5 and 12, which are the next two Saturdays, so this is your last chance for a while to stock up.
Now for some jolly good news: Bonnie's Wondergardens is back next Saturday!
The Market will look awfully big on Saturday because it's the second of three Community Days, when we open another lane of parking to businesses and community groups who set up a table to introduce themselves to you. This time you'll learn about a mother's support group, soccer organized by the Lansdowne Boys and Girls Club, gift baskets, a couple of area churches and schools, renewable energy options, the Lansdowne Folk Club's fall season, and health and wellness products and services (including flu shots!). (Full list is here.)You'll also be able to order a free tree from Lansdowne borough, which has to be the best deal in town.
The next Community Day is our October 30 Fall Festival. Applications will be available starting in early October and will be due on October 17. (We'll let you know in this newsletter when the applications are available, so be sure to read each week!) Find out all the deets on our FAQ page.
Since this is the final Saturday of the month, we'll be collecting contributions for the community food bank again -- either nonperishable food or money. Make a donation of some items at the Market manager tent (in a bag, or box, please), and we'll thank you with a Market Buck that you can skip off to spend anywhere.
We're putting out a "pretty please" call for volunteers this Saturday, August 29, because half the LFM committee is off volunteering elsewhere that day. Market set up is 7:45 am and breakdown is 1:00 pm. See you there? Special thanks to recent volunteers Terry Baraldi and Jayne Young, who have shown up a number of times this summer without being begged. Thank you, ladies!
Let's use this last Saturday to promote the next last Saturday: Coming September 25 is our annual Dog Day, when the Market goes to the dogs (or even more dogs than usual come to the Market, which is more accurate). Animal Friends of Lansdowne has been working hard to line up a bunch of good stuff that day, including several pet rescues and makers of pet products. It'll be worth coming even if you're a cat person.
Lansdowne Arts & Music Festival
Mark your calendar now for the 13th annual Lansdowne Arts & Music Festival (see the new name??), which runs September 12 and 13 at the Twentieth Century Club. The Taste of Lansdowne Pre-Show Reception and Art Sale is Friday, September 11, 7 to 9 pm. Shopping + delicious samplings from area restaurants + fundraising support = win!
The new name reflects what we've known for years: not only does the Festival have the best artists and craftspeople around, it also has the best musicians, who have been known to greatly entertain everyone from age -1 to 100+. The slate has more than 30 artists (both new and familiar) and a dozen musical and performing acts. The Festival is just a quick walk or drive from anywhere in Lansdowne and the environs.
From 4 to 8 pm on Saturday, September 12, you can attend the opening reception for an exhibit of Izaak Schlossman's photography at the 20*20 House, an event organized by the Lansdowne Arts Board. This is the first of eight juried shows chosen by Philadelphia gallery owner Bridgette Mayer. If you don't know the 20*20 House -- located just next door to the Twentieth Century Club at 20 Lansdowne Court (get it?) -- stop by and learn what's planned for the space.